The Women’s March on Washington drew an estimated crowd of 500,000 to the Mall. The event is the latest in a tradition of civil dissent on the Mall, where women have organized rallies and demonstrations on a wide range of issues for over a century.
Crowd size is one way to measure event impact, but crowd estimates are difficult to pin down and can vary widely. Usually, organizer estimates will be larger, while National Park Service and police estimates are smaller. (The National Park Service stopped issuing event estimates in 1995 after controversy surrounding its numbers.) Here we compare ten notable women’s marches since 1913 using the best estimates available.
Estimated attendance color key:
March 3, 1913
Women’s Suffrage Parade
Organizer(s): Alice Paul
Issue(s): Women’s suffrage
The day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, around 5,000 women marched on Washington for women’s suffrage. These suffragists were mocked, tripped and even violently attacked by bystanders. But the attacks didn’t stop them from continuing to march. The event would go on to inspire many more marches over the next few years.
There were divisions within the movement, though. African American women, including renowned activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, were asked to march in a separate section from their states’ white delegations. Wells-Barnett was among those who refused to oblige.
January 15, 1968
Jeannette Rankin Brigade
Organizer(s): Jeannette Rankin; various women's groups
Issue(s): Vietnam War
In 1968, 87-year-old Jeannette Rankin led a coalition of women’s groups in a protest against the Vietnam War. Rankin was the first women elected to Congress in 1916 and was a fierce advocate for pacifism, women’s rights and social welfare. The 1968 protest was named in her honor.
August 26, 1970
Women’s Strike for Equality
Organizer(s): Betty Friedan; National Organization for Women (NOW)
Issue(s): Women’s rights
Officially sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Women’s Strike for Equality was a nationwide protest with marches in multiples cities. The strike focused on women’s rights, including workplace equality and reproductive rights.
Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique,” helped plan the protest. The event took place on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which granted women’s suffrage.
Annually since January 22, 1974
March for Life
Organizer(s): March for Life and Defense Fund
Issue(s): Reproductive rights
On January 22, 1974, one year to the day after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally, pro-life activists participated in the first March for Life to protest the Supreme Court decision. Since then, the rally has been held annually on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in late Jan.
The event has grown throughout the years. The first march drew a few thousand protestors, while more recent marches have seen consistent crowds estimated to be in the tens to hundreds of thousands.
July 9, 1978
March for the Equal Rights Amendment
Issue(s): Women’s rights; Equal Rights Amendment
The ultimately doomed Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923 in an attempt to guarantee equal rights for women. It was passed by Congress in 1973 but still required ratification by two-thirds of the states within a seven-year time limit. Conservative activists such as Phyllis Schlafly, a lawyer who argued that the ERA would upend traditional gender roles, began a concerted campaign against the amendment.
Less than a year before the seven-year ratification time limit, the NOW organized the March for the Equal Rights Amendment to persuade legislators to extend the deadline beyond March 29, 1979. Congress did approve an extension of the time limit to 1982. No other states ratified the amendment, however. In the end, 35 total states ratified the ERA — three short of the 38 required for the proposed amendment to become law. To this day, there is still no constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for women.
October 11, 1987
Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights
Organizer(s): Various LGBT groups, leaders and activists
Issue(s): LGBT rights; AIDS research and education
The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place in 1979. Its initial planning was plagued by infighting, but the march’s ultimate success paved the way for this second march.
For the second march, organizers, leaders and activists joined together at a National Planning Conference in 1986. A steering committee was put in place, with delegates mandating 25 percent people of color and 50 percent women. The rising awareness of gay people of color and the AIDS epidemic also heavily influenced the planning process and became prominent themes during the protest.
April 9, 1995
Rally for Women’s Lives
Issue(s): Women’s Rights
The Rally for Women’s Lives protested violence against women, in forms ranging from domestic violence to political attacks on women’s rights. The rally formed in response partly to a Republican-controlled Congress. It hoped to influence and set the political agenda for 1996, an election year.
May 14, 2000
Million Mom March
Organizer(s): Donna Dees-Thomases
Issue(s): Gun control
After a horrific series of school shootings, the Million Mom March called for stricter gun control legislation. Donna Dees-Thomases started this grass-roots event, which took place on Mother’s Day, May 14.
April 25, 2004
March for Women’s Lives
Issue(s): Reproductive rights; women’s rights
This large rally took place on the Mall in a demonstration for women’s reproductive rights. Crowd estimates vary greatly, but the rally’s still-impressive turnout included a variety of prominent figures, from politicians such as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton to actresses such as Whoopi Goldberg and Susan Sarandon. The march targeted the policies of the George W. Bush administration, which was antiabortion.
The march shares its name with earlier reproductive rights marches organized by NOW in 1989 and 1992, which each brought several hundred thousand people to the Mall.
January 21, 2017
Women’s March on Washington
Organizer(s): Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland
Issue(s): Women’s rights; reproductive rights; LGBTQIA rights; worker’s rights; immigrant rights
Millions of women gathered in the District and in cities around the world one day after President Trump's inauguration. The protest in Washington packed the Mall — organizers said that as many as a half-million people participated — and dwarfed the inauguration crowd. The estimated size makes this march the largest inauguration protest in history.
Demonstrators came from around the country, carrying signs protesting bigotry, discrimination and sexual assault. Many said they participated to take a public stand against Trump. The march also turned into the weekend’s star-studded event, with celebrities including Janelle Monáe, Scarlett Johansson and Madonna making appearances. Prominent activists and leaders such as Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and Janet Mock also spoke.
Each is participants